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tv   Countdown With Keith Olbermann  MSNBC  January 20, 2010 1:00am-2:00am EST

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from massachusetts. i don't think anybody would have believed us if we had said we would be doing this conversation in terms of the senator-elect from massachusetts, mr. brown as recently as a month ago. are there words to describe the feeling there, norah? >> this is clearly a huge upset, a shock for democrats who did not think certainly a month ago that this race would even be close. i have to report to you, i have spoken with an aid, a senior adviser to scott brown who reports that president barack obama has called brown to congratulate him. we are expecting to hear from brown any moment now. this is a big win for republicans in this state. why? because the last time a republican held this seat was in 1952 when jfk beat henry cabot lodge for this seat. so as one democratic official joked to me, every republican in
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massachusetts is here in this ballroom because it's not that often that republicans get a chance to celebrate. they are happy here tonight. the other big thing is what this means for health care reforp, what it means for president barack obama's agenda. look very closely at the statement, senator jim webb, democrat of virginia has just put out. he said it would be wise to wait until scott brown is seated in the united states before they move forward on health care reform. pretty interesting shot across the bow or warning, whatever you want to call it. because as you know, there's been a discussion that it would take the secretary of state at least about ten days to certify scott brown and then, of course, you have to wait till biden is ready to swear him in and get him into office. there was some talk that maybe the democrats in the senate could try and push this bill before that. now you have jim webb saying, let's hold our horses. it would be wise to wait until he's seated. then the other note, just to a
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tee just about almost every democratic congressman that we talked to does not seem to have the appetite to want to take the senate bill and just pass it as is so that it can go directly to the president's desk. so there are some real concerns tonight by democratic party officials about just how health care reform that president barack obama promised could ever get done. keith? >> well, i think the word is reconciliation. msnbc's norah o'donnell at senator-elect scott brown's headquarters in boston. many thanks. let's try to analyze what happened. to the jamaica plain neighborhood of boston. our own chris matthews and rachel maddow holding down the fort there perhaps more than metaphorically. let's find out. that point that was just raised by norah o'donnell, chris, is that -- is there a way to hold up the senate vote after the senate has voted already in what jim webb just said about nothing should be voted on finally until the seats of senator-elect
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brown? >> well, a lot of this has to do with procedure. there's a ten-day period of certification where you go town by town and clarify exactly what the result was, and that could be a formality because when ted kennedy picked up this seat in a special election in '62, he was seated the very next day. some is ritual, some is precedent. but jim webb i think made some noise here by warning the democrats not to vote with the lame duck appointed paul kirk in ted kennedy's seat. >> rachel, what are your thoughts on this and what is the meaning of jim webb, of all people, stepping in on this, former reagan administration naval secretary? what is the -- it seems so odd for him to have jumped in and him to have jumped in, both the timing and the person. what do you think of it? >> you know, it's -- keith, i think it points up what howard dean was saying on the air earlier, which is democrats have to decide if the lesson here is to be more centrist and try to
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do less or to really try to get things done. as you and i have been talking about on both of our shows for months and chris has, too, you end up with a much more, much, much, much more progressive, ambitious health reform proposal if you're not shooting at this perhaps mythical idea of 60 votes in the first place. either you do something to neuter the filibuster or you pass something through reconciliation or you pass something that's very bare bones with as many senators as you can bring on board and then work out the hard details through reconciliation. there are ways to do this. but this may actually be the thing that forces democrats to be way more progressive than they were otherwise going to be because they're no longer chasing that mythical 60. >> chris, what about that? is that the -- i think i attributed it to ed koch two hours ago when he said he was the first-term mayor of new york that he was going to make sure that he got a second term by not even thinking about it as he governed. that the idea was do what it is you want to do and that's going
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to lead to your second term. and if it doesn't, at least you got done in your first term what you wanted to get done, what you elected to get to. do the democrats find themselves in this position tonight because they were too liberal or because they weren't liberal enough? >> well, let's push forward right from -- we don't know. i mean, i can't read the voting motives of everybody up here own the day that it happened. but let me tell you. along the lines of what you've been talking about for months now, i've been back studying that book about what lbj did to get civil rights through. remember jack kennedy when was alive from up here couldn't get civil rights through because there was a bunch of dixiecrats running that rules committee in the house. you know what johnson did? he got a discharge position. got so many votes over 200, scared the bejesus out of the chairman of the rules committee and said pass it by december of the year jack kennedy was killed. within a month he got it done. on the senate side he skipped the judiciary committee, went around it, went to the senate democrats. said, okay, i want you to pass all the crap that's on the
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agenda right now. so a filibuster doesn't get in the way of anything. passed all the junk that was waiting in line. everything was done. then he let them talk for two months and got dirksen and around the judiciary committee and got cloture. there's a lot of things you have to do to break precedent if something's really important. if they decide in the democratic caucus that they can get 50 votes and the vice president's tie-breaking vote, if they can do that -- now that's the if -- they might well go for it. to me it's a question of practicality. if they can hold the 50, not the 59. hold 50. that's all you need. not 51. and the vice president. they can push through a good bit of the structure, the fiscal structure of health care reform. the other way to do it is to take the house and try to get them to buy the senate version with the absolute commitment from the president and the leadership that there will be a reconciliation bill through both houses this spring which will correct the problems that house members have with the senate
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bill. now, it will take a lot of thrust and a lot of guts, but that's the only route to the indies, as far as i'm concerned, if you're christopher columbus. it's the only route because they're not going to get olympia snowe or susan collins. let's face it. that's not going to happen. and they're not going to get 60 votes any other way. so they have a simple question now. do they want a health care bill or don't they? and they may have to go either with those two roles. reconciliation which you suggest, which is doable. or a synthesis, go with the house, tell the house, buy the senate bill and we'll fix all the problems in a big, big reconciliation bill this spring and give you guys what you need to justify it at home this november and then you will win. but if you don't do this, you will lose. now, he's got to threaten them with that. he's got to tell the democrats if you don't do health care, the toughest way -- because we're going to have to do it the toughest way. that means you, rahm emanuel, you have to really do the work.
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you have to really do the work. we can do it. but the only other alternative to me is fall on your sword and give up. and i do think that's the route. and bill clinton will give that speech a few hundred times. that's a route to defeat. big time. maybe lose 50 seats, lose the speakership and maybe lose the majority of the senate as well. because after tonight they have to get the message they can lose arkansas, they can easily lose indiana, they can get killed in pennsylvania. and even barbara boxer might have a race on her hands if this climate of discontent and dissatisfaction with government not being able to do anything continues. inability to act is the biggest democratic problem right now, i think, between now and november. inability to act. the climate ain't going to change. the economy's not going to change. they got to prove they can act. that's what i think is the question between now and november. i think. >> rachel, got any hints, helpful hints on how we can get those democrats to do that or how they can get those democrats to do that?
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they don't seem to have been willing to do it with a 60-vote majority. now they're basically addition by subtraction? is that what this is? >> any democrat who can count to two, any democrat who knows how to spell their own name, any democrat who can figure out how to work a television remote control knows right now that health care cannot die unless the democratic party is going to die with it. this is it. democrats have to pass it. there's no if they decide to pass it. there's no when they decide to pass it. no. this is -- chris is absolutely right in terms of the political stakes here. whatever you want to call health reform, something called health reform must pass, and it must pass within, i don't know, 30 days, or the democratic party is going to have a really big problem for a really long time that no individual election cycle is going to be able to get them out of. this is an exclamation point on these results tonight for democrats. health care must pass. >> you watch. it will be a new bill.
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it will be a bill supporting childproof bottles. rachel maddow, chris matthews, great thanks. as we await senator-elect brown's speech, will the democratic loss in massachusetts indeed kill health care reform? representative anthony wiener said it might, speaker pelosi said reform will still happen. lawrence o'donnell joins us. but before that i have to apologize for comments i made about senator-elect brown last night. . when that happens, it's not as comfortable, see? when the strip turns white you should think about changing it... for a smoother ride. (announcer) gillette fusion. fresh blade. more comfortable shave. ♪ three decadent flavors. 60 calories.
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lawrence o'donnell joins me next on the future of health reform. but first we stay in massachusetts for the first of tonight's quick comments. i want to apologize for calling senator-elect brown an exnude model tea bagging supporter of violence against woman and against pligs with whom he disagrees. i'm sorry. i left out the word sexist and left out the story the day brown upset by online criticism from some students went to the student and swore at the entire student body. i'm very sorry. for all the blowback from the right on this comment, from people who regularly mutter
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worse things about barack obama in their sleep, when it came to the facts that i cited to paint this picture of this horrifically unqualified senator-elect, we have heard nothing. no contrary evidence, no refutation, not even a plausible excuse. and to the point of excuse, it can be argued that brown should have been given the benefit of the doubt after a supporter shouted at him that they should shove a curling iron up martha coakley's butt. that he did not hear that, that when brown then said, we can do this, he was not responding to the lunatic in the crowd. but "the boston globe" makes an unanswerable point about that. even if brown really didn't hear it, where was his later statement decrying the obscenity and violence his supporter had suggested? not only did he not offer even offer the mildest reproach but when pressed for one by senator kerry brown replied that people are tired of john kerry's partisan politics. in senator-elect brown we have an irresponsible homophobic racist reactionary sexist ex-nude model tea bagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians
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with whom he disagrees. and if he or you don't like that characterization, my answer to you is simple, disprove it, because he hasn't. ♪
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the commonwealth of massachusetts sent republican state senator scott brown to the u.s. senate tonight potentially crippling efforts to give the u.s. a health care system that would still not be as progressive as the one in massachusetts. we're awaiting the senator-elect's speech in boston tonight. in the interim before the first votes were cast today top democrats in washington were both offering assurances they could find other ways to pass health care without their 60-vote supermajority in the senate and also writing its obituary. congressman anthony wiener saying you can make a pretty good argument that health care might be dead.
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but restorative measures under way. the white house pushing the congress to bypass the senate by having the house vote on the exact bill that already passed the senate instead of the compromise bill now worked on by congressional negotiators and send that to the president for his signature. house speaker nancy pelosi previously poured cold water on that option. this afternoon she suggested it would not be necessary, though she did not explain why. >> our eye is on the ball of passing legislation. in order to do that, we have to resolve some differences, establish some priorities, make some decisions. and that's what we're doing. whether -- whatever happens in massachusetts, we have to do that. and whatever happens in massachusetts, we will have quality, affordable health care for all americans, and it will be soon. >> earlier, democratic house leader steny hoyer had given momentum to speculation they might send the
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senate bill when he said, better than nothing. with you theory that democrats pick up the pace and beat brown to the senate getting a compromise bill finished in time to hold a vote, killing the filibuster on the new bill before brown is sworn in, which could come as early as the end of this month but might come sooner than that after what senator jim webb said on behalf of a small group of democratic senators in the house just now, that no action should be taken until the changeover of the senate in the senate seat from massachusetts is accomplished. joining us now a man who knows massachusetts and knows health care reform, msnbc political analyst lawrence o'donnell. center at huffington post, former chief of staff for the senate finance committee. let's start with jim webb. what is this about? what did he say? >> well, he's saying, in effect, this is -- he's taking this as the warning shot to democrats, back off from a liberal agenda, pushing out in that direction. he probably represents ten quiet senators who come from states that are -- that do have strong republican votes in them. and so there's going to be a lot
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of cold feet, the house and senate. nancy pelosi does have some good will on her side. i talked to some democratic members of the house today. they all anticipated this loss tonight. some of them i would have expected to be opposed to going forward with anything close to the senate bill have said to me, let's see what nancy can do. let's see if she can pull a rabbit out of the hat in the house. we don't know. there's an interesting comment from harry reid tonight. i just got his comment over the blackberry. he said the people of massachusetts have spoken. we welcome scott brown to the senate and will move to seat him as soon as the proper paperwork has been received. now, this goes back to chris' point earlier, ted kennedy when he was elected special election, seated the next day. there is paperwork to do. there is a certification to do in massachusetts. it does take close to two weeks to do it. that seems to be a statement by harry reid saying we're going to make you deliver us the full documentation to seat him. >> clearly, people like anthony
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wiener don't want that senate bill and many others in the house, a lot of progressives didn't want the senate bill beforehand, let alone on a take it or leave it basis. you have that. you have progressives that don't want it to pass in this form saying there has got to be something better to be passed perhaps at that 51 vote margin, perhaps by reconciliation. how is this going to turn out? how is this going to end? you've already been proved pretty much correct on a prediction from months ago, it will be march before anything happened. that would seem speedy activity here. >> it's easy to predict delay in this process and easy to predict what pieces fall out along the way. easy to see in august they would lose the public option no matter what they said because i could see where the weakness was and how they would surrender basically. we are now in completely uncharted territory. so i don't have a weather map to look at here. i don't hear -- everything i hear, every scenario people come up with, i can sit here and tell you why it won't work. but i don't know. maybe this is the time they land the plane on the hudson. i just have never seen anyone,
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any process that could get beyond what's happening tonight. losing that 60th vote, as far as every maneuver i know, loses the bill. what everyone has to remember about reconciliation, there will be a huge demand for it. it requires 60 votes every single day on several procedural parliamentary motions that come up during a reconciliation bill. if you don't win them, your bill gets ripped apart. even then, within the rules of reconciliation, it's impossible to do some of the elements of health care reform because of the rules of reconciliation. so i'm sitting here saying i don't see how you go forward from here. i don't know what the play is. but listen, harry reid has done an amazing job getting a bill out of the senate in any form. nancy pelosi has done an amazing job getting the bill out of the house in any form. i've never seen that happen before either. so surprise me again. >> child proof bottles. i'm telling you that's where it will end up as we watch mitt romney come to the stage. here in anticipation of senate-elect brown. we'll thank lawrence o'donnell
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of msnbc and the huffington post. even before the polls were closed in massachusetts, the behind the scenes blame game on the failures of the coakley campaign already started. the political fingerpointing and everybody seems to have 17 fingers. and what this will all mean for the president and the democrats going forward in the regular 2010 elections and also senator-elect brown's speech ahead on "countdown." ... sluggish. ... my daughter needed activia! so i took the activia challenge... wow. it works. now she has a spring in her step. i'm loving it. every morning. help get your system back on track. activia with bifidus regularis helps regulate your digestive system in two weeks. would you recommend activia? i already have. it works or it's free. get back on track now with the activia challenge. ♪ activia
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the senator-elect from massachusetts is about to take right now in his victory bows, then give his victory speech. let's go to boston. . the senator-elect from massachusetts, parenthesis r parenthesis. >> oh, thank you so, so much.
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what a great reception, what a great crowd. i bet they can hear this cheering all the way in washington, d.c. thank you. thank you. thank you. yes, i did this morning. thank you. and i hope they're paying close attention because tonight the independent voice of massachusetts has spoken. from the berkshires to boston to
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springfield to cape cod, the voters of the commonwealth defied the odds and the experts. tonight the independent majority has delivered a great victory. i thank the people of massachusetts for electing me as your next united states senator.
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and every day i hold this office, i will give all that is in me to serve you well and make you proud. and most of all, most of all, i will remember -- thank you. most of all, i will remember that while the honor is mine, this senate seat belongs to no one person, no one political party. and as i said before and you've heard it today and you'll hear it loud and clear, this is the people's seat! [ chanting "people's seat" ]
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thank you very much. i spoke to interim senator paul kirk, and he has completed his work as the senator. [ crowd chants "seat him now" ] i spoke to senator kirk, and he was very gracious. he said that he would help in the transition. he welcomes me as soon as i can get there. and i want to thank him from the bottom of my heart. i want to thank him. and i want to thank him very much. the people, as you know by their votes, have now filled the
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office themselves, and i'm ready to go to washington without delay. i also want to thank -- thank you. i also want to thank martha coakley for her call of congratulations. a hard contest is behind us. and now we must come together as a commonwealth. thank you, martha. as you know, this special election came about because we lost someone very, very dear to massachusetts and to america. senator ted kennedy was a tireless worker and a big-hearted public servant. and for most of his lifetime was a force like no other in this state.
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the first call i made was to his wife, vicki, and i told her that his name will always command the affection and respect by the people of massachusetts, and i said we feel the same about her. there's no replacing a man like that. but tonight i honor the memory and i pledge to be the very best and try to be a worthy successor to the late senator kennedy. and i said -- i said at the very beginning when i sat down with my -- at the dinner table with
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my family that win or lose, we would run a race which would make all of us proud. i kept my word. i kept my word and we ran a clean, issues-oriented, upbeat campaign. and i wouldn't trade that for anything. and when i first started running, i asked for a lot of help because i knew it was going to be me against the machine. i was wrong. i was wrong. it was all of us against the machine. and tonight -- and tonight we have shown everybody now that you are the machine.
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i'm glad my mom and dad, my brothers and sisters and so many family members are here tonight. it means a lot to me, and i thank them very much. once again, before i go any further, before i go any further, i want to introduce somebody very, very special to me. you haven't seen much of her on the campaign trail. i'd like to introduce you to my wife gail. as you know -- as you know, my wife, gail, couldn't join me on the campaign trail because of her work as a boston tv journalist. but i will let you in on a little secret.
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>> no secrets. >> no secrets. she didn't stay neutral today. she actually voted for the winner. and as always, i rely on gail's love and support and that of our two lovely daughters, so i want to thank them for their help as well. just in case anybody who is watching throughout the country, yes, they're both available. oh, no, no, no. no. only kidding. only kidding. only kidding, only kidding. arianna is definitely not available. ayla is.
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>> stop. >> this is arianna. and this is ayla. i can see i'm going to get in trouble when i get home. but arianna will be returning in a day or two to her studies premed at syracuse. and because she's been giving her all -- she's been giving her all to this campaign. and as always, her sister and ayla have been -- ayla and arianna have obviously been a joy to gail and me. we're so grateful to them both for their professionalism and their love and excitement and zest for life and even for her campaign performances in front of millions of people. you've heard ayla's voice
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already on "american idol." and as -- and as a boston college basketball player, many fans know that she's also pretty good on the court. and the reason i bring that up is because when i spoke to the president tonight, i asked the president, you know -- because he has a couple of basketball courts there. when i spoke to the president, the first thing i said, would you like me to drive the truck down to washington so you can see it? yeah, i did it. >> before we get to the chowder recipes of the family, we're going to take a pause to discuss this. before the polls had closed in massachusetts tonight, democratic officials in that state and around the country had come together to agree on one point. the martha coakley senate
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campaign was a crappy one. what they disagree on and might all be wrong about is why. when tuesday was only 29 minutes old, posted a story quoting unnamed hill sources that claimed rahm emanuel, white house chief of staff, was blaming coakley as well as the democratic senatorial campaign committee for having botched the race. an unnamed adviser to coakley pushed back with an e-mail titled national dems fail to aid coakley until too late. though several of its factual claims have already been called into question. by late afternoon, coakley pollster lake, reportedly another object of mr. emanuel's wrath became one of the few putting their own names on the recriminations telling the huffington post that brown, now the senator-elect, who campaigned as a pickup driving everyman who just happens to be a lawyer, surged because he became the change-oriented candidate voters are still voting for the change they voted for in 2008, but they want to see it.
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and right now they think they've got economic poultice from washington that are delivering more for banks than wall street. she added as did one democrat in d.c. there's a lot of blame to go about, a democratic strategist saying the party lost independents in virginia, new jersey and massachusetts races and, quote, the only thing those three states have in common is obama. let's bring in the co-founder and editor in chief of huffington post arianna huffington. good evening, arianna. >> good evening, keith. i didn't know that scott brown's daughter was called arianna. i just found that out. >> i guess a mixture of pride and not pride for you on that. we found everything else out about the family there as it began to sort of turn into "american idol" meets who wants to be a senator. the -- your initial take-away from tonight's outcome is what? >> my initial take-away is that this could actually be a blessing in disguise for the democrats. i know the disguise is very heavy. but this is their chance to course correct. celineda lake was correct. this is a referendum on the
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administration's and congress' policies towards wall street. if they interpret it that way and course correct, they can actually prevent what was coming to them in 2010, which is potentially losing the house and the senate. there is time to course correct. it has to start with the white house. the president has to actually take a trip to a metaphorical mountaintop and remember why he run, why he got elected and why when he now goes and campaigns for martha coakley and talks about special interests and fighting the status quo he's not believed because he's the status quo. he's in charge of all three branches of government. >> the democratic senator evan bayh told abc news tonight that democrats need to make common cause with independents and moderates. isn't that exactly how the democrats got in this position in massachusetts and does president obama get that, do you think? >> well, i think the problem
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with massachusetts is that democrats became partners of the special interests and the status quo. the problem is not with independents and moderates. it's with the fact that the chief lobbyist for phrma, the head of phrma visited the white house 11 times in the first six months. the fact that, as dick durbin said, the banks are basically in charge of what's happening on the hill. this is the fundamental problem. the democrats starting with the white house need to demonstrate to the american people they're on their side of middle class families deathly worried about losing jobs, foreclosures and bankruptcies. and you know, i love rachel, but i completely disagree with her. the way that -- the way to do that is not to fight for a broken health care bill that over 50% of americans are against. moderates, independents, progressives and conservatives. the way to do that is to fight
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for jobs, to fight against the banks that are about this week to give out ridiculous bonuses while middle class americans are hurting. this is the priority. they stand to course correct, but they need to course correct in the right direction. >> in the next couple of days, we saw it as we mentioned past the stroke of midnight last night the fingerpointing and everybody has 17 fingers pointing as to whose responsibility this is kind of let slip through the cracks things like senator-elect brown sort of humiliating his daughters there which is a trivial point. but more importantly the senator-elect referred several times to his being something like an independent. and the audience there certainly believed that that's what they were and they were representing independent values. statistically senator-elect brown in his state role in massachusetts voted 90% of the time with the republicans in 2006, but since 2007, he had increased that to 96% of the time.
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what kind of snake oil salesman gets up there and says, i'm not a republican and you're not republicans and we didn't vote republican? >> well, you know what, keith, in the end, we can say a lot of things about scott brown and a lot of things about martha coakley and what a lackluster candidate she was. but in the end, this is not about massachusetts and this is not about scott brown and martha coakley. this is about the national democratic party that has lost its way. and this is the time to course correct. that's why i'm actually in the end optimistic that this could turn out to be a good night for democrats if they learn the right lessons. if they listen to evan bayh and joe lieberman who are telling them to go to some kind of mythical middle, which is exactly where the status quo is, while upping the rhetoric but not changing their actions then, unfortunately, the lessons of tonight will have been missed. >> arianna huffington, who had the name first before the
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daughter of senator-elect brown did, of the huffington post, thank you for your time. >> thank you. democrats lose the 60-vote supermajority and still have the 59-vote not so supermajority. could that turn into a political benefit for democrats as their party goes up against the party of no? and a quick comment. after senator-elect brown's win, an important reminder to his tea party friends. my nose and right around here. (announcer) want to give afrin a try? yeah. it cleared up right away. i can breathe. (announcer) so where would you rate it? 99.9. (announcer) afrin. why suffer?
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chantix should not be taken with other quit-smoking products. ♪ my benjamin, he helped me with the countdown. "ben, how many days has it been?" "5 days, mom. 10 days, mom." i think after 30 days he got tired of counting. [ male announcer ] talk to your doctor to find out if prescription chantix is right for you. my god, he's still talking. senator-elect brown is still giving his victory speech tonight in boston. howard fineman will help me wrap it up, if he wraps it up in a moment. first the second of tonight's quick comments. the tea baggers have elected their first guy tonight, thus they will be expecting legislation by tomorrow, making it a death penalty offense to call them tea baggers. it's useful to remind them how the term originated and with whom. a tv news report aired last march 14th in which they described the first protest act. take a tea bag, put it in the envelope and mail it to the
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white house. adding, rebag has a headline, tea bag the fools in d.c. on tax day. thus the verse to tea bag was invented by the tea baggers themselves. the correspondent who put it on tv was one griff jenkins of fox news. send your complaints to him. host: did the waltons take way too long to say goodnight? mom: g'night john boy. g'night mary ellen. mary ellen: g'night mama. g'night erin. elizabeth: g'night john boy. jim bob: g'night grandpa. elizabeth: g'night ben. jim bob:'night. elizabeth: g'night jim bob. jim bob: g'night everybody, grandpa: g'night everybody. jim bob: g'night daddy. vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more. ♪ [ male announcer ] introducing the all-new lexus gx. ♪ it has the agility to avoid the unexpected...
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the new kind of change you can believe in. or just a politician who keeps talking and talking and talking. like bill clinton kind of talking. let's turn once again to wrap this up with our own howard fineman, senior washington correspondent for "newsweek" magazine. howard, good evening. >> well, at least in this respect, keith, this guy is really ready for the senate, you
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know. matter of fact, he can fit right into the filibuster strategy. >> is this what he's been voted for as the 41st vote? he has to give the literal filibuster. >> they don't actually do them anymore as you know. >> does he know that? >> with the cots and everything else. he's perfect. he's perfect. >> the spin on the meaning of this is far more deafening than i thought. i brought ear plugs for it. what does this mean? >> well, i think whatever the truth on the ground in massachusetts was about martha coakley and the various campaigns and who gave money and who didn't and all that other, who shot john, the fact is this is going to have an effect on health care and on the obama agenda, because it's going to make the republicans even more recalcitrant than they've already been. now they believe that the country is on their side, which is not really true. and they're going to make life more complicated and obama is going to be operating in a -- in
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a less friendly terrain, both in terms of his own party, which is scared, and in terms of the media, which judges everything based on success or failure, not substance. so the fact you've had new jersey and virginia, now massachusetts, three points make a trend, you're going to see a lot of stories about the failure of obama's mandate a year after his inauguration. you just see all those stories. so he's got a tougher environment to operate in, for sure. >> if it had been said the night before the 2008 election that as 2010 began, the democrats would have a 58 to 41 -- 59-41 margin in the senate, wouldn't the dammedest of damned liberals be doing cartwheels? >> i think the 60th thing mesmerized them and they went to that as the answer. in theory you should be able to govern with majorities of this size in the house and the senate. you should be able to. you should be able to somehow
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lure some republicans, entrap them into supporting you on things or force them into voting for you on things. you break the health care -- humongous health care bill down into pieces, have separate votes on pre-existing condition, on covering the uninsured, all that kind of thing. i dare say there are a lot of republicans that wouldn't be able to vote against the individual pieces of it. but somehow the politics of trying to do the whole big thing at once became amplified by the 60 votes, which ended up not helping the democrats or obama but actually hurting them. >> is there an analogy to be made here between how the democratic party in washington viewed what they had and the cliched story of everybody who has ever won $63 million in a lottery and spent it all in an hour and a half or turned into these, you know, extraordinary misers who constituted no spend any of it at any point? is there something to that -- is that what we saw in the last year?
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>> i actually think it's more the latter in the sense that obama took all of his winnings and turned them over to max baucus. to shorthand it a little bit. turned it over to the senate finance committee, where they took months coming up with a two-headed horse that is what the health care bill is. neither satisfying to the progressives on the left of the party, the arianna huffingtons of the world or the conservative democrats in the party. so paradoxically they get big votes, force a 60-vote majority but it's on something that nobody really is for. >> now, there could be some -- maybe it's under-confidence. i think it's just another strain of overconfidence we've seen in the last year. but is what we're seeing on the other part of the screen here, does this have the potential to be republican overconfidence or tea party overconfidence or do those folks actually know where they stand as opposed to the way they tell everybody they think they stand? >> this is important, no question about it. and having gone to the tea party events and knowing my history of
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the republican party, this is the mode of force in the republican party. there are problems politically with health care. there are problems politically with obama seeming to overreach and yet not delivering at the same time. but if anybody can overplay their hand, it will be the republicans, because they may not realize that people just don't want somebody shouting no. that what the american people are upset about the way washington is still working or not working is that there's no cooperation, there's no results, there's no sense of good will and community. i think ultimately that's what the fair minded independent voters which tonight went with scott brown want out of the republicans, too. so there's every reason to think that they might overplay their hand, but this is a big night for them tonight, because this is now the center of gravity of the republican party. >> howard fineman of "newsweek" and msnbc. thank you for your insight at 8:00 and thank you for your insight here. have a good night. that is "countdown" for this the 2,455th day since the previous president declared miss
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mission accomplished in iraq. i'm keith olbermann. good night and good luck. once again to boston.
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